Barbera said: “The feeling of watching a movie on the big screen with other people is in the very nature of the film industry. We have to support cinemas. Many are still closed today, others will never reopen. ”
The director added that the fight for the reopening of cinemas and the physical fitness of film festivals was a “battle for civilization and for culture”. His statements were supported by a letter signed by the directors of seven other film festivals, including Thierry Frémaux of Cannes, and José Luis Rebordinos (San Sebastian) and Tricia Tuttle (London), both of which will host physical festivals later. this year.
Barbera said the Covid-19 pandemic had given streaming sites the upper hand in the battle for viewers, and that the increase in Netflix’s subscriber base coupled with the permanent shutdown of theaters could be fatal unless industry does not show solidarity.
Frémaux, who appeared on the stage at an event that has been Cannes’ biggest rival in recent years, added that festivals were able to give a “positive boost” to the industry and that cinema as a whole had now need this support.
He also warned of the ascendancy of what he called “television platforms” during the coronavirus outbreak and said streamers and physical cinemas and festivals must find a way to coexist. He cited Marvel’s Avengers series as an example of films that performed both as a box office success and a popular streaming option when Disney + launched last year.
Barbera was in a provocative mood at the start of the festival, which is her last in charge and takes place as Covid infections rise again in Europe. He defended his decision to host the event even though all the other big festivals have canceled or are hosting virtual screenings this year.
When the festival opened, there were queues in front of nine thermoscanners placed at the entrances to the festival site on the Lido, and anyone with a temperature over 37.5 ° C was refused entry. Face masks are mandatory at this year’s event, and other safety measures include social distancing screenings and an attendee tracking system.
On Wednesday evening, Barbera, along with other festival directors, including Carlo Chatrian (Berlin), will officially open the festival with a statement that presents the event as a manifestation of solidarity with the film industry.
The directors will insist that festivals are “not just promotional showcases”, but increasingly become “centers of culture”, and “opportunities for cultural enlightenment of the public and for education in culture”. beauty and richness of the film experience for young people ”.
Along with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which was the first major film to screen since lockdowns closed cinemas around the world, the Venice event has now become a touchstone for a desperate industry. to recover.
The event, which during Barbera’s tenure became a rival to Cannes as Europe’s most important film festival, has fewer stars than usual with Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Matt Dillon and Ludivine Sagnier among the expected international talents.
This year’s event has a strong British contingent as Hollywood names – for the most part – stay on the sidelines, and Venice seems closer to home for filmmakers, jury members and actors. Tilda Swinton receives Lifetime Achievement Award and stars in Pedro Almodóvar’s 30-minute film The Human Voice, while The Souvenir director Joanna Hogg is on the Golden Lion jury.
Documentary filmmaker Luke Holland has a posthumous screening of Final Account, his film about the rise of the Third Reich, while The Crown star Vanessa Kirby has two films at the festival – Pieces of a Woman by Kornél Mundruczó and Mona’s Coming World Fastvold. British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir plays Malcolm X in Regina’s first film King One Night in Miami, an adaptation of the Kemp Powers play which was at the Donmar Warehouse in 2016, and is a fictional tale of the Cassius Night Clay (then about to change his name from Muhammad Ali) beat Sonny Liston while surrounded by friends including Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown.
The Venice Film Festival opens on Wednesdays and continues until September 12.